The Centre for Linguistics and Cultural Studies under Humanities and Social Sciences Department, CIT Kokrajhar is established in 2019 with the aim of conducting substantial research on the lesser known, developing and endangered languages of Northeast India and to revitalize them with the direct and indirect institutional intervention. It is because each and every language embodies the unique cultural and historical wisdom of a people. The loss of any language is thus an irrevocable loss for all humanity. According to a recent UNESCO report - Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger (2009) - out of the approximately 7,000 existing languages in the world more than 2,500 are under threat of imminent extinction. They may be extinct even before the next century begins. As for Indian languages, 196 are currently endangered according to the above mentioned report and many of them are located in Northeast India. Speakers of many of the languages in North East India, which belong to different language families, are rather small in number ranging from 1000 to 10,000. With the new generations sharply shifting to dominant languages in order to ensure jobs for themselves these languages are now increasingly under threat of being extinct.
On the other hand, with the advancement of science and technology our society and culture is completely changed. The most common way of changing the human culture is through communicating with different people and their culture. Communication between different cultures can happen in various ways including trade, immigration, or warfare. In the 21st century, cultural interactions are more common today with the expansion of digital technology. Technology has become such indispensable part of human life that human being cannot live without it. It has immensely influenced on human way of working, thinking, and living that make easy to contact with each other, and share their ideas, experiences and knowledge. So, Contact, technologies, geographical and ecological factor have bound to change human culture and form a new culture. So, culture is dynamic and changes overtime. Now, Cultural studies draw many things from other disciplines such as Film, Anthropology, Economics, Tourism, History, Geography, Ecology, Technology, and Media. India has many ethnic groups as a country of multi-lingual, cultural, religion and colours that causes many problems sometimes. So, we need to understand and appreciate our culture and establish a sincere relationship with people of other cultures other than ourselves, and build strong relationships with different cultural groups for interest of national integration. So, this centre will attempt to do a systematic research, documentation, preservation and revitalization of Indigenous Cultural traits and values.
To help the endangered language communities to revive and maintain their languages and also instill the sense of loyalty towards their native language.
To identify and introduce the significance of culture and traditional values of the communities of BTAD region and NE India as a whole
To make the Centre one of the best centres working on endangered languages and culture of the communities in the country and worldwide.
To create a database of all such languages comprising grammatical descriptions, dictionaries and documentation.
To archive the traditional cultural traits of the communities of BTAD in particular and NE India as a whole.
OBJECTIVESS OF THE CENTRE:
The prime objectives of the Centre are:
To undertake inter departmental and inter disciplinary research related to endangered languages.
To undertake fieldwork, research, analysis, archiving and documentation of smaller indigenous/endangered languages using stat-of the art speech and language technologies, in formats that are universally acceptable viz, digitized textual, audio and video formats
To produce and publish monographs, grammars, grammatical sketches, dictionaries and lexicon, ethno-linguistic and theoretical descriptions, collection of oral and folk literature and scholarly books on endangered languages.
To produce language and dialect atlases with special reference to minority and endangered languages.
To organize workshops and seminars aimed towards promoting advanced research related to endangered languages.
To train teachers and students from other departments/centres in Field Linguistics, Lexicography and in techniques for data management and documentation. Field linguistics would constitute an indispensable part of the Centre.
The Centre should serve the indigenous and endangered language communities by making accessible the products of the research of the Centre, i.e., digital and analogue archives of linguistic data, language teaching material, and language artifacts.
To promote and foster various domains of endangered languages so as to ensure minority/endangered language communities in maintaining and preserving language vitality, including the development of orthographical resources like scripts, book of letters, and primers.
To digitize data collected in the course of the research in the Centre and make it available to public by internet.
In the initial phases this Centre shall and may draw resources (such as man power, labs, books, students, etc) from other centres of languages, linguistics, folklore, anthropology, and literature in the university but eventually should conceive of forming an independent centre purely devoted to the issues of endangered and indigenous languages.
The Centre aspires to be one of the hubs for research on endangered languages in India with practical outputs for the development of such languages. The Centre will describe, document and digitize the endangered languages and culture of various indigenous communities of NE region. It will train researchers the scientific methods and applications of technologies while doing such researches.
A. OUTSTANDING RESEARCH
- To publish linguistic multi-lingual dictionaries of every undertaken language.
- To publish descriptive grammar of every undertaken language.
- To create online and digital corpus for every undertaken language.
- To archive traditional cultural heritages, folk songs, folk tales
- To explore and archive the traditional knowledge systems of the communities of NE India.
- Field Assistants and researchers will conduct field work to collect primary data of each language undertaken by the Centre.
- The Centre will conduct workshop for data elicitation and analysis.
B. EXCELLENT TEACHING-LEARNING (Future Plan)
- To produce a few PhD and Post-Doctoral research in coming years.
- Through its Masters' program MA in Linguistics and Endangered Languages, or other relevant courses a group of trained and motivated scholars will be produced.
C. SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
- To develop reading materials like story books and orthographic resources like script, books of letters, primers etc.
- To work towards the revitalization of minority/endangered languages through school education.
- Introducing the significance of traditional cultural values.
- The human resources from the Centre will frequently visit the members of the endangered language communities in their places and hold discussion, meetings etc. on the issue of the importance of passing their languages and cultural values to the next generation.
D. ENABLING STRATEGIES FOR VISION 2030
- The Centre will work to provide the e-access of language data to all through a consortium of these languages at CIT Kokrajhar
- To provide support to the native speakers of these languages in the language-awareness programs in their communities.
- To help bringing these languages to the sphere of modern technologies.
- Teaching/learning of various indigenous languages and foreign languages such as Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese etc. will also be carried out.